I’m not happy with a lot of negativity out there. I hear people talking about their transformation saying, “this transformation is a failure because this leader doesn’t get it”. Or, “we’re doing a scrummerfall”, or “you know that PMO is in the way, or that group over there is fighting us harder, and so we’re still doing legacy funding and all of our projects are running at the same time and it’s just a failed transformation.” Hang on there. I’m here to say that there’s no such thing as failure when you’re talking about change. There’s only a question of degree of progress.
There are three perspectives on this that I want to share with you and I’m feeling pretty convicted about them. Time, energy, and impact.
So, when it comes to time, one of the questions you want to ask yourself is, where am I in the stage of the change. Are you merely sowing seeds? Are you the first person to mention words like digital or devops, or the product mindset? And, if you are, then you need to be prepared to wait for those seeds to take root and before you see any kind of momentum, or promise, or growth. And, then it’s going to take even longer for there to be the kind of beautiful fruit blossoming in your organization. That’s going to take time. In fact, you may not be around to see the harvest. He who does the harvest may not be he who sowed the seeds. Instead, it might be more like she who is doing what she can right now to push the ball forward. Time matters. And, just because you’re frustrated about doesn’t mean it’s not going to get done.
What about energy? You know, we set out on change initiatives. And, we’ve got point A, point B, let’s go, and we forget that it’s a roller coaster. There’s some up and downs. And, you might be a fast buggy in the beginning. Let’s go, let’s get some pilot projects, let’s do some people processing some tools, let’s roll out some training, and then whoa! Look at all the blow back, the pushback. And then look at all the people that are just resisting and they’re not really getting it, and they’re doing it wrong. And, then I’m going to go topsy-turvy, loop-to-loop, and now I’m guy who’s going back into phase two of this transformation, a little bit worse for the wear. Because, change is hard. Change is messy. It’s one of these things where it doesn’t go according to plan. And, isn’t that what adaptive, modern leadership is all about? Things don’t go to plan as often as they used to in a more complex, dynamic world.
And, then finally, impact. Because, when we’re talking about enterprise transformation, we’re going to transform all of our portfolios from project-based to product-based. And, we’re going to go fully digital in the entire organization. I’m an enterprise transformation coach. That’s what I do. And then we all get laid-off. I’ve been there. A couple times. Communications, manufacturing, couple of different organizations, and it sucks. I’ll be honest. And, you see all of your transformation efforts just kind of blow up in one move, one swoop. But you know what? There might be a team that survives that. And all of the work that we did is going to stick with them and they’re going to keep thriving and moving forward. And, there might be a grumpy bug still around but then the team as a whole, they’re thriving. You had impact and it stuck around. But, what about that person that didn’t survive the layoff? They didn’t have any benefit of the transformation. Not so fast! They are now going to be sharing those thoughts and ideas out to their new gig and the new place where they’re working. So, you may have had an impact on not just on the team that stays, but on the people, who are moving forward.
There’s no such thing as failed agile transformation. Forget the negativity. Get some perspective on time, energy, and impact.